It happened on Glenn Beck’s radio show the day after the debate, where Junior claimed that “crackhead Hunter has now a tie, a direct tie to Vladimir Putin.” The slur was one New York magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi heard Junior try out on the campaign trail before the debate, before using it on the radio.
And the Putin smear was a true “no puppet” moment coming from the Trump kid who infamously met with Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in June 2016, but was later found by Bob Mueller to be too stupid to have colluded, which some might say is the very definition of white male privilege. It all got me thinking about why Junior just can’t stop talking about Hunter. Junior is furious. Junior is fragile. Junior is triggered.
As someone with my own misspent youth, who for many years was an under-performer in a family filled with over-performers, I sometimes feel as obsessed with Junior, who was reportedly an extreme drinker himself in college, as he is with Hunter. And as someone sober for 23 years, I understand how tricky it can be to get sober and stay sober, as Hunter has struggled to do.
One irony here is that Junior has five healthy children, enormous wealth, an extremely attractive girlfriend, two bestselling books and millions of Twitter followers—and none of that seems to have affected his belief that he has been wronged by society, wronged by the media, wronged by his birth. Many people would consider being born into a family of millionaires to be an enormous advantage in the world but not Junior.
Another irony may be that the men are not all that different. Both went to private schools, both grew up with powerful fathers, both were sporty and attractive kids who had many advantages due to their proximity to power. There were stark differences too. Per a New Yorker profile: “Hunter enrolled at Georgetown University in 1988. He and Beau took out student loans to cover their university costs. Hunter worked odd jobs—parking cars at events and unloading sixty-pound boxes of frozen beef—to help pay for his room and board.” Whereas after college, Junior moved to Aspen and became a ski bum.
A normal politician might have qualms about attacking the surviving son of a man who has lost two children and a wife but not Donald J. Trump. During the debates, Trump senior attacked the president’s surviving son: “Hunter got thrown out of the military; he was thrown out, dishonorably discharged for cocaine use.” Of course this wasn’t totally true. Hunter was discharged but it was not under the category of dishonorable.
“My son, like a lot of people, like a lot of people you know at home, had a drug problem,” Biden responded. “He’s overtaken it. He’s fixed it. He’s worked on it. And I’m proud of him. I’m proud of my son.”
I happen to think that the phrase “I’m proud of my son” said to the audience with such intensity and conviction might be why Trump Junior hates Hunter Biden so much.
There are countless stories of Trump Senior degrading and humiliating Trump Junior, including telling him once, according to Sam Nunberg in Julia Ioffe’s piece in GQ, “Don, you can finally do something for me—you can go hunting.” And that’s not to mention the famous story of Senior not wanting to share his name with Junior because of the worry that he might be a loser.